Ice jams already causing flooding, more problems likely - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Ice jams already causing flooding, more problems likely

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - It's a common problem in eastern Iowa: Ice jams forming when the weather warms up.

Some people in Cedar Rapids say that the flooding those caused last year was the worst the ice jams have ever caused. This year, the city has made some changes.

Kevin and Laurie Nurre have made Ellis Harbor their summer home for 13 years. They spent part of Monday securing their belongings, knowing all too well that flooding is a possibility due to ice jams nearby.

"It used to be, before '08, people didn't really think a whole lot about it," said Laurie. "Since '08, people get panicked."

On Monday morning, the city closed Ellis Road between Edgewood and Covington because of flooding.

Otis Road SE near Cargill closed Monday afternoon. More closures may follow.

The city hopes some new capital improvement projects will help prevent some damage, like the check valve near Pierson's Flower Shop and the new berm by Ellis Park.

"We're trying to be more proactive and more prepared," said Maria Johnson, Communications Division Manager. "We learned some lessons from last year but largely the ice jams are unpredictable, and it largely depends what the river is doing, how we're going to respond to those."

The city also decided to switch the 5-in-1 dam from automatic to manual a bit earlier than in the past.

"When we started to see a rising stage up past Edgewood Bridge, we decided at that point to put it in manual and have personnel actually making the decisions on when gates would be moved or adjusted," said Tariq Baloch, Water Utility Plant Manager.

While it's hard to predict the the flooding ice jams can cause, Nurre says she's less nervous this year than she's been in the past.

"I don't think it will be as bad as last year," said Laurie. "They're really prepping this year a whole lot more."

There's still a lot of ice that needs to come down the river and city officials say the flooding problems could get worse over the next several days.
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